My friend's daughter wanted an "A" in algebra. And because her teacher had a schoolwide reputation for being tough, she knew it was going to be a struggle.
Night after night, my friend and her husband watched their eighth-grader struggle with her math homework. They listened to her practice the powers of 10 and, amazed, saw her studying diligently for tests. This was serious business, no question about it.
One day, my friend walked in on her daughter smiling beatifically from the couch.
"Hey, what's going on?" she asked. "You sure look happy."
Her daughter smiled up at her. "I'm practicing delight," she said.
My friend was baffled. Was this the religious practice of some cult? A theater exercise? Some misunderstanding of a class assignment? "What do you mean?" she finally asked.
Her daughter continued to smile. "This is the way I'm going to look when Ms. B. tells me I got an A in algebra. I'm practicing delight."
My friend was charmed, as was I when she told me this story. How often, I thought, do I practice the opposite of what this young girl chose? By worrying, or what one good friend calls "catastrophizing" – imagining the worst. By rationalizing my anticipated failures or disappointments, making excuses for my record in advance of its actuality, I practice despair, disappointment, and sorrow.
How much more fun to practice delight. At worst, we would lift our spirits for a time. At best, we might master the face of joy.
If it isn't a religious practice, it ought to be!